My Favorite Things

Happy Sunday! I will not be cooking this week because THIS:

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Thanksgiving Leftovers. What’s in here:

Cabbage Rolls

Short Ribs with Slow Cooked Polenta

Ham

Turkey

Stuffing

Gravy

Bacon

Turkey Stock

Indian Breakfast

Mostachones

Also, I’m heading to Disney on Thursday (yay!) so too much food for too little time. Still, I bake on.

I was making cookies this morning listening to Christmas music and “My Favorite Things” came on. When it started playing on the radio the last handful of years ago, I struck me as odd because I never really associated this with Christmas growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Sound of Music (on my list of top five) but it was a song that seemed more…secular…for lack of a better word, than most of my Christmas favorites.

It got me thinking as I rolled out the dough to my dulce de leche sandwich cookies (coming soon!) that in lieu of “my favorite thanksgiving recipes” or “my favorite ways to use thanksgiving leftovers” (hint: it’s cassoulet…in my slow cooker right now. Yee-ah), I’d introduce you to my favorite kitchen things. Because if you’re reading this, you probably have a list of your own. Amiright?

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The thing about my kitchen things is this: I don’t like extraneous kitchen gadgets. They’re just not my impulse buy. Why do I need a special blender to make margaritas? Wouldn’t a regular one be just fine? I realize everyone has their thing, but when it comes to what fills my very limited cabinet space, I tend to be pretty picky and stick with the basics, with a few exceptions. So, without further ado, here are my favorite kitchen things.

Parchment paper

Seven years ago when I moved to Chicago, I bought this huge box of parchment paper from the restaurant supply store. Of course it was snowing. Of course it was heavy. Of course I decided to take the bus. Perhaps not the smartest move, but the point is that I still have half left, despite baking a LOT and supply Mama with some (and she bakes a lot, too). I find parchment invaluable and if you have a kitchen supply store in your area, I suggest checking it out. It’s a whole lot cheaper than buying the roll at the grocery.

My KitchenAid

I wasn’t always a KitchenAid snob. My first mixer I bought for myself was my “you got a job!” present and, after more than one pro-con list, I settled on a Sunbeam, the mixer that I grew up using in Mama’s kitchen and the one that she still uses today. However, mom’s is from like, 1965. And it still works. The one I bought three years ago broke after 2 years (and in the middle of my first real-deal buttercream). Sunbeam won’t repair their mixers, so in a “screw you” I converted to the KitchenAid and never looked back. Now, I baked for YEARS with just a hand mixer and did just fine. However, I do love this.

My handmixer

Because sometimes you just need to whip up some cream. And this is just dandy for that.

Immersion blender

I’ve mentioned before I don’t have a real blender and this + football stadium cup means that this household of one does not need one.

Food processor

I resisted this one for a long time. Mama bought it for me and it sat in disuse, probably for years. However, as my personal cookbook has expanded, I realized that it’s pretty awesome for quick rolls or crusts where I’d otherwise have to “cut in” fat, and the attachments make it awesome for shredding cheese.

Ice Cream Maker

I stole this from my mom. There has been no punishment. All reward.

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Silicone Spatulas

I love these because the heads don’t separate from the body and nasty stuff can’t get trapped in the crevices. Martha Stewart started making these I want to say about 5-6 years ago for Macy’s but now they sell them all over.

Thin Metal-Spatula

Really, a multi-purpose deal. Sometimes the big ones are just too big. This is also quite bendy.

Whisk

Whisking is my favorite kitchen activity and this whisk makes me feel like a giant.

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Reamer

Just as effective as a larger juicer. 1/100th of the size.

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Cast Iron skillet

Hand me down from Grandma. Well seasoned from years of Hungarian cooking goodness.

This pan

I got it a few years ago and it’s by far my most used. Deep enough for liquids, but not a full out saucepan.

And finally…good knives. Mine are Cutco.

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As for pantry staples, because I cook all over the world, what is my favorite for one region may sit dormant in all the others (curry leaves, I’m looking at you). However, I’ve realized that some ingredients’ usefulness cannot be contained, so here’s what I’ve found to be useful in more than one nation’s cuisine (besides the obvious flour/sugar).

Cardamom Pods

Cocoa Powder (I really like Rodelle)

Chocolate/ Chocolate Chips

Saigon Cinnamon

Coriander

Cumin

Dijon Mustard

Honey

Fish Sauce

Mexican and Greek Oregano

Semolina Flour

Smoked Paprika

Thyme

Vanilla extract

ALL THE NUTS

Of course my pantry boasts more than just the above list. My spice rack in particular overfloweth. 

I hope you enjoyed this brief tour through my kitchen.  No one has pressed me to advertise any products or brands (though you can probably tell I have some brand loyalty) and even if they did, I wouldn’t.  I’m stubborn like that.  I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday (if you’re from the States) or a lovely weekend (if you’re from elsewhere)!

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6 thoughts on “My Favorite Things”

      • Hi my name is Joe maybe your mom mentioned me i met her at oakpointe country club. i now live in florida. we talk on the phone quite often, she gave me your blog this am very nice i like to cook so i will try some of your items take care and enjoy Christmas with mom and family. Joe

  • Laura and I were recently talking about why Sound of Music is a “Christmas Movie” when none of it takes place at the holidays or even winter. Easier answer for us here as all through our childhood it aired on TV Christmas Eve which was also the same evening we were at our Austrian family’s home for a holiday party, and of course Sound of Music was her ultimate favourite movie!

    I’m a handmixer kind of baker, stole it from my Mom, it’s from the 80s and is amazing. Sure, I’d love a stand mixer but probably just wouldn’t use it enough, nor do I want to store it.

    • See, I think I always associate the SOM with Easter because I feel like it was always on around then as a kid, but I can see your logic. Also, it’s a family movie and that alone sort of makes it a holiday one.

      I didn’t have my big mixer until about 6 years ago and really the biggest benefit is making things like frosting. And I admit, storing it is a huge pain especially since I have close to zero room!

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